February 2013 IT Activity Report
Should IT add a second High Performance Computing Cluster to the UD Community Cluster Program?
Information Technologies' (IT) High Performance Computing (HPC) support staff are investigating the expansion of the Community Cluster Program by adding a second high performance cluster to supplement the 5136-core Mills Cluster deployed in January 2012. Individual researchers get priority access to the computing power they purchase without the ongoing financial liability of running their own computing clusters.
The Community Cluster Program uses a faculty-IT partnership model. IT staff maintain and support this shared-ownership, shared-use system on behalf of the cluster's stakeholders.
The IT HPC support staff has asked current Mills stakeholders to complete a short survey assessing their needs, preferences, and level of interest. If you are also interested in this effort, we invite you to take the survey too.
After we review the responses and complete further investigation, we will hold a public forum to discuss potential cluster ideas.
The next round of UDSIS patches and fixes will be applied on March 16. The student system will be down that morning while patches are applied and should be back up some time in the afternoon. During the outage, most of the data stored in UDSIS will be available for view. However, the production system will not accept updates until the system maintenance is completed.
Dozens netted by phishing scam first week of spring semester
To coincide with the first week of spring semester, hackers sent several phishing email messages to UD email addresses. As many as 20 people a day let themselves be caught by this type of identity theft.
If you receive email with a subject line like this one, “UDemail Service – Your UDemail Account has been Flagged,” delete it. Do not follow any links in the message. Even though the message appears to come from IT staff, the email is a phishing scam designed to get you to follow a link so that criminals can steal and exploit your personal information and put University information at risk.
Some rules of thumb to keep yourself from being caught in a phishing net:
- No one at UD or any other reputable organization will ever send you email asking you to reply with your name, password, birth date, or banking information.
- If you click a link that asks you to log in, or if your mobile device’s email takes you to a page that asks you to log in, be careful. To be safe, do not log in at the page brought up from the mobile email or the link you clicked. Instead, go to a Web page you trust, with a URL that you recognize as safe.
- Should you disclose your confidential UD login information to a phishing scam, change your UDelNet password immediately or contact the IT Support Center (Help Request form, firstname.lastname@example.org, 302-831-6000).
For more information, see these resources:
- New phishing scams hit UD (UDaily article)
- Phishing scams seen at UD
- UD advice on how to avoid phishing schemes
- Compromised UDelNet accounts
Web security certificates
For many years, the University had been paying for HTTPS/SSL Web Security Certificates individually. Earlier this fiscal year, IT bought a campus-wide license for Web security certificates from GlobalSign. As part of its mission to support the campus infrastructure, IT makes these certificates available to departments at no additional cost.
When we purchased our license, some new features were added. Those features and more information about obtaining a certificate are listed at this Web page: Campus-Wide License for Web Security Certificates.
IT Transformation Grant
The IT Transformation Grant returns this year with expanded funding opportunities, a two-stage proposal process, and a new timeline. This program offers faculty grants to transform education with the support of new and innovative uses of technology.
This year’s program combines resources from IT and the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning to accommodate funding requests for faculty time, graduate or undergraduate student time, conference attendance and travel, software, and equipment.
The proposal process begins with a short explanation of the faculty member's idea submitted on a pre-proposal form. A successful pre-proposal will briefly convey the strength of the idea to the review committee. The reviewers understand that full proposal details will have to be developed; therefore, if you plan to apply for a grant, use just a few sentences to explain your idea and its potential to be transformative.
The rolling deadline for pre-proposals is April 1. Early submissions will get an early response and allow faculty more time to prepare for the full proposal deadline on May 1. Awards will be announced at the 2013 Summer Faculty Institute on May 28. Project development and funding will begin June 1. Projects must be completed by the end of spring semester 2014.
One-stop shopping for faculty teaching with technology
The Learning Management Systems support group (Karen Kral, Nancy O'Laughlin, and Mathieu Plourde) joined IT Academic Technology Services (IT-ATS) in January. Faculty can now take advantage of "one-stop shopping" for all their teaching with technology needs, whether they teach only online, only in the classroom, or use a blend of both. The expanded IT-ATS staff provides faculty with personal assistance for Sakai@UD and Canvas course sites, along with classroom recording through UD Capture, video conferencing, clickers and polling, instructional project development, video hosting, in-class technical instruction, the semi-annual Faculty Institute programs, and more. Faculty and those who teach at UD can get started by using the IT-ATS contact Web page.
University of Delaware joins the New Media Consortium
The University of Delaware is now a member of the New Media Consortium (NMC), with funding provided by both the University Library and IT. Institutional membership to the New Media Consortium provides regular communication from the NMC about key issues related to education and technology, as well as a substantial reduction in the registration fees for conference attendance.
The NMC describes itself as "an international community of experts in educational technology—from the practitioners who work with new technologies on campuses every day; to the visionaries who are shaping the future of learning at think tanks, labs, and research centers; to its staff and board of directors; to the advisory boards and others helping the NMC conduct cutting edge research."
2013 Winter Faculty Institute
The 2013 Winter Faculty Institute brought together a diverse group of faculty from across campus. Keynote speaker Robert Steiner of the American Museum of Natural History presented Institutions in transition: Research, teaching and learning in the digital age. Ten University of Delaware faculty spoke on topics ranging from interdisciplinarity to open education:
- John Jungck, Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories: Opportunities and resources for interdisciplinarity.
- Mark Serva, Accounting & MIS: Insights from exploring the idea of "flipping the classroom."
- Sharon Walpole, Education: Designing a course for collaboration.
- Bob Hampel, Education: Oral history with a twist.
- Jen Nauen, Biological Sciences: Integrating collaborative projects and instructional technology into teaching introductory biology.
- Ralph Begleiter and Paul Brewer, Communication: Technology on the "Road to the Presidency."
- Meredith Wesolowski, Chemistry and Biochemistry: iPads ‘n’ ISE.
- Joint presentation:
- Richard Gordon, IT Communication Group and department of Computer and Information Sciences: Creating a learning community...
- Mathieu Plourde, IT-ATS and School of Education: ... And opening it to the world.
The entire program is available as an online video archive.
Three spring series for those who teach at UD:
New this spring, Tuesday Tech Talks features 14 diverse topics. Join us to discuss new ideas for enhancing teaching on Tuesdays, 12:30-2 p.m. in 304 Pearson Hall. Lunch will be served. Topics include:
- February 19: iPads in the Class
- February 26: Writing Collaboratively
- March 2: 2D Image Analysis
The First Friday Roundtable on Teaching, a collaborative University of Delaware program aimed at highlighting varied approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment practices, returns this spring with three events:
- March 8: Working with Undergraduate International Students
- April 5: A Process for Building Strong Student Teams
- May 3: What Does an Engaged UD Student Look Like?
To receive more detailed information about this series, subscribe to the IT-ATS newsletter.
Digital Humanities Workshop Series
Scholars and instructors in the humanities are finding that digital technologies are increasingly important to their work. Digital humanities tools can be used to incorporate maps into historical research, to analyze text, to design virtual exhibition spaces, and much more. Meet nationally and internationally recognized experts and learn how to apply state-of-the-art digital humanities tools in your own classroom. Find out more and register at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center Web site. These events are free and open to the public.
The series is co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning, College of Arts & Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center, Interdisciplinary Science Learning Laboratories, IT-ATS, and the University of Delaware Library.
Profiles: faculty teaching with technology
Faculty looking for inspiration and insights for leveraging technology in their teaching can find it through UD Faculty Profiles. Whether you're teaching in the humanities, engineering, or the sciences, with a large class or a small Study Abroad group, you'll find something that relates to your course. If you are interested in using iPads, a learning management system, UD Capture, clickers, or another teaching technology, chances are we have profiled one or more of your colleagues using that technology.
Since the beginning of last semester, nine faculty profiles have been added. Each profile includes a UDaily article and companion videos. The short videos focus on a single topic or technology so that you can understand the faculty member’s perspective quickly. If you'd like to recommend a colleague or yourself for a future profile, please contact the IT Communication Group.
Parent/Guardian Secure Services goes live
In November 2012, you may have seen our UDaily article on the initial release of Parent/Guardian Secure Services for "My Finances."
In February 2013, the Registrar's Office will pilot this service with a few students using the system and then will announce its availability to all students. The application allows students to share portions of their UD education information with individuals they designate as a parent or guardian.
Students are able to share specific portions of additional information, including:
- Class schedule
- Final exam schedule
- Honors and awards
- Final grades
- Dining and Flex information
- Housing assignments
Students may grant access to any or all of these components through UDSIS or m.udel.edu. Students begin by specifying a parent or guardian’s email address and choosing the specific components they would like to share with that individual. The parent or guardian can only view the shared information and cannot edit it, except for My Finances, which grants the individual access to view and pay the student's bill.
Providing secure services to parents and guardians was a strategic implementation that involved several campus units such as the Registrar, Student Financial Services, Housing, Dining, and several other departments who worked behind-the-scenes to contribute to this initiative.
UDataGlance Financial Position Report adds new functionality
UDataGlance is UD's secure financial tool that departments and colleges use to view financial data. The Financial Position Report tab was added to UDataGlance in June 2011.
College Financial Officers and VP's had asked for the ability to drill down to purpose code details from the revenue and expense categories in the Financial Position Report in UDataGlance. This enhancement was rolled out in December 2012.
College Financial Officers also requested a special Financial Position Report format based on the RBB Model revenue and expense categories in addition to college-specific expense account categories. In December, we also rolled out this special view that allows colleges to toggle to see data displayed in either the original (standard view) or the new College view.
IT Web Development (IT-WD) has been working with the Budget Office, which has worked with the colleges, to define and implement these important views for colleges. We provide a Feedback form within UDataGlance to continually collect requests for further enhancements.
Database software upgrade projects
The Database Administration team within IT Management Information Services (IT-MIS) has upgraded the Oracle database software to the latest version for the PeopleSoft Student Administration application. The programming staff tested the application to ensure a smooth transition. The production database was upgraded successfully in December.
Planning has begun to complete a Webforms database upgrade later this year. The upgrade will be performed in coordination with a hardware upgrade for the production and reporting databases. This combined effort will result in a faster, more reliable platform for Webforms processing.
The PeopleSoft HR application database upgrade in the test environment is planned for spring 2013.
Financial Data Warehouse
The Financial Data Warehouse and Financial Reporting repository have been upgraded to the latest version of Oracle database software. In addition, the repositories were moved to a larger, more powerful database server, which should result in improved performance and reliability of access.
Financial systems upgrades and changes
IT-MIS made several changes to Financial systems:
- Financial systems finished the database upgrade to Oracle DB 11.2.x, including some index improvements after the main upgrade.
- Changes in the Grad Contract accounting allowed operational improvements, especially the processing of grad-contract amendments.
- A new subsystem feed to capture the accounting of some fuel charges was put into place.
- A patch was applied in January to include the latest regulations and improvements from Oracle in the processing of the Federal 1099 forms.
- We loaded some pre-2004 speedtype values into the speedtype archive to make certain UDataGlance queries more efficient.
NSS recycles; you can too
Working with staff in Procurement Services, IT Network and System Services (IT-NSS) arranged for recycling of some old equipment—at no cost to the University. We sent about 200 old Cisco switches and several dozen 35-year-old floor tiles to recycling companies to make sure that old equipment is disposed of in a completely “green” manner.
The process for recycling the Cisco switches shows the complexity of recycling computing equipment so old as to have no resale value:
- We were concerned that these old network switches contained passwords in flash memory. The National Reclamation recycling company will disassemble the switches into component parts, thereby physically destroying the memory.
- Circuit boards are being sent to a smelter to recover their metals, particularly the copper.
- The steel cases are being separated and sold for scrap.
- The power supplies are being recycled through a subsidiary recycler.
- For more information about recycling your department’s computer equipment, visit the University’s Campus Computer, Electronic Equipment and Office Supplies Recycling Web site.
The Classroom Technology group in IT University Media Services (IT-UMS) has designed the overall A/V system to be used in the renovation of Alison Hall, scheduled for completion by the end of May 2013. We specified the network connectivity and the type, make, and models of equipment to be installed in the rooms. IT-UMS will manage the installation of all A/V equipment and connectivity for 12 classrooms and 12 departmental spaces.
The Classroom Technology group is also heavily involved in a similar project for the eight classrooms and four departmental Problem Based Learning (PBL) rooms in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab) scheduled for completion in August 2013.
Working in association with the Office of Communication & Marketing (OCM), IT-UMS Video Production has completed seven, 2 to 3-minute video segments highlighting research being done by University faculty. The segments are currently airing on Knowledge TV, a channel featuring programs from a consortium of several colleges and universities and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Knowledge TV can be seen on channel 52 of the University’s cable TV system.
The Video Production group has completed the production for the stadium scoreboard and live streaming of Delaware football and has moved into streaming all men’s and women’s home basketball games. The production for the stadium scoreboard and live streaming of both men’s and women’s lacrosse will begin in February.
The Video Production group has also upgraded the University’s satellite uplink to accommodate HD broadcasts. The new system was recently used to do live interviews with UD faculty for Fox News, PBS, and Bloomberg News.
The IT-UMS Events group supported the University’s 2013 Winter Commencement in January. IT-UMS provided the sound, imagery, and live streaming for the event.
During the past two months, LearnIT@UD offered over a dozen different instructor-led sessions. The topics included computer and data security, iPad use, managing information overload, building Web sites with WordPress, and writing for the Web. We offered our training in a variety of formats: roundtable discussions, “bring your own data” workshops, demonstrations, and traditional hands-on computer lab sessions.
If you weren’t able to attend a live session, all are recorded. We can also bring the training to you by conducting customized training for faculty, students, and staff in your department or unit.
To see our training calendar, a list of recorded sessions, and all LearnIT@UD resources, check our Web site.
IT Professional training
We also provided training for our campus-wide departmental IT professionals and those who act in that capacity. In January, IT hosted its 3rd UD IT Professional UnConference. The purpose of the event was to provide IT professionals with an opportunity to come together and explore current topics as well as share questions and best practices with each other. Over 70 employees from 24 different UD departments participated. For general information about the UnConference format, see the unconference.net Web site.
IT also coordinated an in-depth, 2-day training course on Windows Server 2012. The training was conducted by Windows expert and author, Mark Minasi. Over 50 IT professionals attended, representing 20 UD departments.
In December 2012, Zachary Roland started working in IT-NSS as a Network Technician II. Zachary was previously employed as a student worker in the Network Group. He brings to the University several years of experience working on the University's data communications systems and will be working on network installations.
Mike Davis joined the IT-NSS Systems Group on January 1. His primary responsibilities are to provide systems administration, programming, and analysis for the central IT computing systems. Mike brings to IT-NSS more than 20 years of experience providing systems support in the research computing area from his work in UD's Electrical and Computing Engineering and Computer and Information Sciences departments.